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Outdoor Navigation

Getting where you need to be, while staying on the right track, is a key part of backpacking. A hiker can quickly become lost in dense backcountry, making outdoor navigation skills an important part to any wilderness trip. Modern GPS navigation systems are a great tool for finding your way, but, as with any device, they can fail, leaving you stranded without any means to navigate. It’s best to keep a topographic map and compass as a backup in your pack, along with a map of the area. Study the terrain you’ll be snaking through before the trip to ensure you have a lay of the land, also. Read Backpacker’s articles on outdoor navigation to help guide you through this essential backpacking subject.

Google Map of the Columbia River Gorge
Navigation

How to Read a Topo

By: Maren Horjus

Learn how to discern the markings on your two-dimensional map.

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BP0612SKIL_Randall_MasterClass_200x170
Navigation Skills

Master Class: Find Yourself on a Map

By: Molly Absolon

The best way to avoid getting lost? Always know your location. Study up on these key techniques for identifying terrain features,translating GPS data to a map, and triangulating your position.

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Rock Cairn (by Kirkendall)
Navigation Skills Survival

Rip & Live: Lost

By: Kristy Holland

More than 1,000 hikers go missing every year in our national parks alone. Most are found within hours, but basic skills can help you get home without making a serious—or even fatal—mistake. Follow this advice for staying on course.

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Featured Videos
Learn to Calibrate Your GPS

Make sure you stay on track with this step-by-step guide to calibrating your GPS unit.

  • Learn to Calibrate Your GPS
  • Essential Skills: Map a Trail with Your GPS
  • How to Align Your Compass with Your Map
  • Survival Skills: Get Un-Lost with GPS